Change-Oriented Organizational Citizenship Behavior in Public Administration: the Power of Leadership and the Cost of Organizational Politics

Topics: Leadership, Public administration, Public services Pages: 40 (12549 words) Published: March 23, 2012
Journal of Public Administration Research and Theory Advance Access published September 2, 2011

Change-Oriented Organizational Citizenship Behavior in Public Administration: The Power of Leadership and the Cost of Organizational Politics Eran Vigoda-Gadot, Itai Beeri
University of Haifa

ABSTRACT Using a well-grounded theory of organizational citizenship behavior, this study attempts to extend the meaning of the good soldier syndrome beyond its common boundaries of the business sector. We follow Bettencourt’s (2004) conceptualization and model of changeoriented organizational citizenship behavior (OCB) to explain why and how public employees engage in activities targeted at changing and improving the public work environment and its job processes even when no formal rewards are offered in return. We extend Bettencourt’s model and demonstrate its usefulness and contribution to public administration organizations, focusing especially on leadership behavior, leader-member exchange relations, and perceptions of organizational politics in public agencies. A field study of 217 public personnel in a large public health care organization yields interesting findings, demonstrating the uniqueness of OCB over classical OCB measures (individual and organizational), the general positive effect of leadership on OCB and the moderating effect of perceptions of politics in this relationship. Implications of the findings are developed and discussed in the context of modern public administration. INTRODUCTION

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A growing challenge facing most public services in modern democracies is the quest for creativity, innovation, and change-oriented behaviors among employees. Doctrines of market-driven management developed in recent decades have placed this challenge at the forefront of the discipline’s theoretical and empirical efforts. It has become clear that global governmental reforms (Terry 1998) can be successful only within a dynamic workplace and a proactive public sector. Studies on reforms in public administration stress this need even further (e.g., Pollitt and Bouckaert 2000). Such an organizational atmosphere that encourages public servants to go the extra mile in daily job routines may compensate for bureaucratic red tape, slow and unbendable procedures, and insensitivity and inflexibility in the Both authors contributed equally to this article. The authors wish to thank Shelly Trifon who assisted in data collection and four anonymous reviewers whose comments contributed significantly to the improvement of this article. Address correspondence to the author at doi:10.1093/jopart/mur036 ª The Author 2011. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of the Journal of Public Administration Research and Theory, Inc. All rights reserved. For permissions, please e-mail:


Journal of Public Administration Research and Theory

provision of services (Vigoda-Gadot 2007b). Hence, improving the performance and achievements of governmental agencies depends upon reinventing old procedures and rocking the boat of conservative paradigms and conventional work practices. These new managerial dynamics are strongly influenced by the New Public Management (NPM) school of thought that emphasizes the rapidly changing nature of the markets and the need for public administration to emulate the models of the business world. For a number of years already, NPM has called for the transformation of the bureaucratic structures of public organizations into a more vibrant type of activity and creative configuration (Bernier and Hafsi 2007). Hence, infusing new and creative managerial practices into public systems and in service of very demanding citizens must involve a comprehensive set of change-oriented behaviors among public personnel, across organizations and in various work environments (Saner 2001). These...
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